The whole house smells of tangerines this morning. When my Dear Husband staggered into the kitchen in his bathrobe for a first cup of coffee, his eyes widened and he asked me how I’d managed to make the house smell so good so early. I had gotten up before the sun to bake, and the fragrance of these tangerine-laced cookies had perfumed the air. Even before I started baking, I could smell the dough through its cellophane in the refrigerator. I adapted this recipe from the December, 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine, swapping tangerine zest for the teaspoon of orange zest, dramatically increasing the quantity of the zest and of the fruit, and omitting the cinnamon called for to highlight the bright flavors of tangerine and cranberry in the cookie. I added a couple of eggs and made a few other tweaks, too. They have a sandy texture, a little crunch from the sparkling sugar they’re rolled in and from the pistachios, and they’re fragrant and tart from the cranberries and tangerine zest. They’re rather Christmas-y, too, with their red and green color palette. This recipe makes about eight dozen cookies, but they are rather Lilliputian, and quick to slice and bake. Eat the ragged ends you trim and bake for breakfast, and pack away the beauties to enjoy at Christmas.
This recipe is part of the Cookie Baking and Candy Making Plan for Christmas 2010 (here).
When you zest any citrus fruit, plane only across the bright skin of the fruit. If you grate the white pith below, your zest will be rather bitter. There is a tremendous amount of flavor in the essential oils in the zest, so you don’t need to add the juice of the fruit.
You don’t need to chop the pistachios and the cranberries, but it’s easier to cut the cookies if you do. If the nuts and fruit are whole, the dough sometimes pulls away from them as you slice. Chop them finely before adding them to the dough unless you have a very sharp kitchen knife which will slice through them with ease.
To coat the logs in sparkling sugar, pour some sugar on a sheet of waxed paper or parchment. Press each side of the log firmly into the sugar. Gather up some sugar with your fingers and press it into any bare spots.
Rotating the logs after each slice will help to maintain an even shape, especially if your dough is not well chilled. If your dough is brick hard, this isn’t necessary.
Tangerine-scented Cranberry Pistachio Tiles
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
Yield: about eight dozen little cookies
1 ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ c. sugar
2 T. fine tangerine zest
3 c. all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur.)
½ t. salt
1 c. shelled pistachios, chopped finely
¾ c. dried cranberries, chopped finely
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, zest, and sugar until they are light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between additions.
- Add the salt and the flour and mix until just incorporated.
- Add the pistachios and cranberries and mix briefly.
- Divide the dough into four equal portions and place each portion onto a sheet of cellophane. Pinch the dough roughly into a log shape and wrap it in the cellophane. Then, using the cellophane, roll and shape the dough into logs about 1 ½ “ in diameter. Square them off by running your hands down them on parallel sides.
- Place them in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of two hours and up to three days. The logs may be frozen at this point, too, for baking at a later date. Thaw them in the refrigerator if you have frozen them.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove one log from the refrigerator and coat it in sparkling sugar on each side. Slice the log into ¼ “ slices and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining logs.
- Bake the cookies for eight minutes. Then rotate the trays 180 degrees, and from top to bottom if you have multiple sheets in the oven, and bake them for an additional eight minutes, or until they are pale golden brown.
Storage tips here.